- Christian Copeland
Up Close and Personal with Esther Parade
From experimenting with make-up during the May lockdown 2021 to the national semi-finals of ‘Drag Idol’, I sat down with Cardiff’s very own moustached musical mistress, Esther Parade, to talk all things drag, identity and competitions.
With multiple competition wins under her belt and bagging herself a residency in her first year of drag performance, I soon discovered during my chat with Luke Hereford, the visionary behind Esther Parade, that this up-and-coming queen is one to watch.
Inspired by the powerful female icons that were pillars during Luke’s upbringing, Esther Parade - named after the 1948 musical film ‘Easter Parade’ starring Judy Garland – made her drag debut in October 2021 at The Queer Emporium’s drag night ‘Draglings’. With her performance style of bringing a modern flair to older and lesser-known classic hits, Esther went on to win Drag at the Stag 2021 just one month later with her mash-up performance of ‘Wow’ by Kate Bush and ‘Wow’ by Kylie Minogue.
Esther has a 50s silhouette that reveals into something a bit more fetish. On the topic of aesthetics, Luke tells me “She’s not really a look queen. My biggest worry is how to make a show that is going to say something. Esther is about celebrating joy and otherness…and has never been about trying to convince anyone that I’m a woman”.
Luke (he/they), who identifies as genderqueer, tells me that “sometimes I identify as a man, but Esther (she/they) is a celebration of the times that I don’t”. During our conversation, Luke tells me that, for him, drag is an armour with which his own personal strength is much more obvious and states “Esther has made me more fearless in how I express myself to the world. I am Other with a capital O”.
At the end of April 2022, Esther won the ‘Drag Idol’ Cardiff heats at Mary’s Cardiff after competing in multiple rounds. For Luke, it was “really special to see less stereotypical drag acts being celebrated in Cardiff”. Jay Page, a panellist for the Cardiff heats described Esther as an “incredible artistic drag act” and told me that she “blew us away with an incredible show”. Esther went on to compete at the ‘Drag Idol’ national semi-finals in Manchester with her mash-up performance of ‘Celebrity Skin’ by Hole and ‘Let Me Entertain You’ from the musical Gypsy.
In our conversation about Esther’s journey, Luke tells me that he owes a lot of his success to both his drag mother/sister Polyamorous for her support when first starting out and the drag scene in Cardiff for its “warmth” and for “welcoming Esther with open arms”. Luke tells me, “I am proud to be a Cardiff queen”.